Sunday, April 26, 2009


NOT for the squeamish! Let me just say there is an image of a snake on this page, so if you have a phobia of them like I do of mice, do NOT scroll down. Now...onto my nerdish, ridiculous, childish story...

I have NO idea how I happened to turn out to become a reasonably mature person other than I am 60, so it's probably time, but after some of the silly things I did as a kid--and still am inclined to do to this day--it's all very questionable. One of the joys of my life is to make people laugh, even at my expense, so I'm inclined to tell about the stupid things I've done and do because I know it will garner a giggle from someone.

Okay -- Cindy and I were walking home from school, and I'd guess we were in about fourth and second grades. We often walked home in lieu of riding the bus, and in those days a kid didn't have to bring a note from home to obtain permission. You simply set off walking instead of jumping on the bus. Can you imagine the school system allowing that today? As I recall, it was a hot day, so it was probably mid-May as we trudged along on the one-mile walk.

I was quite the daredevil as a kid, but something happened to that side of me because now I am the most UNcourageous, UNadventurous, scaredy-cattish person alive! Back in the day, though, there wasn't much I wouldn't try at least once.

We have a lot of blue racer snakes in Michigan, especially in wooded areas. I saw a lot of them growing up, and they never bothered me, even though they could grow to several feet long. Usually in the spring you'd find them coming out of hibernation, all curled up under a big shade tree secluded by dry, brown leaves.

EXCEPT for that dead one we found along the road on our way home.

Apparently, he wasn't in his 'racing' mode yet because he never made it across the road before a car smooshed one end of him. Well, Cindy and I bent over the thing to investigate whether he was truly dead. When we determined he was, we picked him up, He felt warm from lying in the sun--and, well, a little limp. We decided to carry him home, even though he was a little heavy. We argued a little bit about who got to carry him, so to be fair we worked it out that we'd count off 50 steps and then we'd hand him over. This worked for about a half-mile. (Our goal, by the way, was to take him home to our mothers and scare them. Is that not naughty?) When we reached our dirt road, we heard an approaching car. We moved off to the side, but then the car screeched to a halt, sending dust everywhere. Oops! It was my dad. He rolled down the window speedy quick. I can still hear him to this day.

"What in the WORLD are you doing?" he asked in a croaky voice. His scowl stretched across his face, and my dad didn't often scowl. "Put that thing down and get in the car immediately. And don't touch the seats. That thing is probably full of germs!"

We only had a tenth of a mile to go, but it was a long tenth, as we sat speechless in the backseat, our dead pet snake tossed in the ditch. When my dad pulled into the driveway he killed the engine and turned around to face us, but Cindy jumped out fast as a wink. "Bye!" she hollered, disappearing like smoke in the wind.

My dad stared at me for a second then chuckled and shook his head. "Don't--go picking up anymore dead snakes, okay?"



I jumped out of the car and made a beeline for the kitchen sink to wash my hands. I can still imagine him sitting in his car watching me from behind the wheel. He probably muttered some prayer that went sort of like this: "Lord, please help that girl make it into adulthood."

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

UPDATE!!! Do you LIKE the mole or HATE it? DECISION MADE!

Okay, all you wonderful blog world friends who have been kind enough to cast your votes for or against the mole on my character's face. (Some will remember my post of Wednesday, 4/15 saying I got a glance at my "tentative" book cover design, and my character had a mole on her face I wasn't expecting to see.)

Well, this whole thing has had me going for a few days. I asked a ton of people (here on my blog, over at SHOUTLIFE, and also at FACEBOOK) what they thought, and the "vote" went straight down the middle, those in favor of it saying it made her more "relatable", less than picture perfect, and those against it saying it distracted them and they just plain didn't care for it.

Here's the verdict: I think I'm inclined to say I don't want it -- NOT because I don't find it attractive, but more because I never mentioned anything about her having it in "Hannah Grace" or "Maggie Rose", the previous two books in the series. It seems like if she had a mole, it'd be a somewhat significant thing to mention, especially since Hannah seemed to be the one who felt the most inferior looks-wise when comparing herself to her sisters.

So there you have it. I am NOT against facial moles -- well, unless they bounce and have hairs coming out of them. Then I'm not fond of them at all.

I AM fond of all of you, though!

WARM Hugs...

And now if you look at the cover I have posted above, you'll see how she looks WITHOUT the mole!

Friday, April 17, 2009



You know how when you're a kid you'll hear a portion of a truth (or maybe not even a portion) and consider it the WHOLE TRUTH, AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH? Kind of like if you drink water from a bathroom faucet, some of the pee might actually get into the faucet, so NEVER drink water from that room. (It took years before I dared risk it.)

Or then there's this one: Once, while sitting in the elementary lunch room, one of my friends told me that someone opened a pint-sized milk jar (back then, we had little glass bottles with lids we had to peel off) and found a dead mouse at the bottom. From that day forward I refused to take milk for lunch. I brought a thermos from home every day! No way would I put myself through the torture of finding a dead rodent in the bottom of my milk bottle.

Oh, and the old adage that swallowing watermelon seeds will actually cause you to grow a giant watermelon in your fertile belly. This one I more doubted than believed (I wasn't entirely stupid), but it didn't stop me from standing in front of my mother's big mirror every now and then to check my belly for a mysterious bulge.

I also heard that while riding in a car in a thunderstorm, if lightning should strike your car you'd be safe because of the rubber tires. (Is this true by the way? Willie would know.) You know, rubber is not a conductor of electricity. Soooo...

One afternoon, Cindy and I set out for our mile walk from school when dark, wearisome clouds started gathering. In the distance, the sky lit with a jagged flash of lightning followed by a low rumble of thunder. Another soon followed, and then another. With every second, the storm drew nearer.

Cindy could be quite the crybaby. It was often my job to ease her fears. Today was no exception. "We're going to die!" she wailed.

"No, we're not. Look. There’s an old tire over in that guy's yard." We always passed junky little houses on our walk home, houses with yards cluttered with dead cars, rusted wash machines, old refrigerators, pieces of sink parts, old tools, you name it. My brothers often stopped and sorted through stuff, looking for "treasures". I considered the tire a treasure. After all, it could save our lives. I ran to get it.

Standing the heavy, dirty thing upright, I rolled it out of the yard. It never occurred to me I might be stealing it since it did have a big slice across its middle. It still rolled, though, which was the important thing.

"Look, Cindy, we're safe now. We have our very own tire. No lightning can get us now, 'cause lightning won't touch rubber. I learned that from Mrs. Saxton. (She was my very smart, very old fourth grade teacher with the strange odor.)

That brought a smile to her face and a quick sigh of relief. I felt proud.

All the way home we let the drenching rain soak through to our skin, while bolts of lightning pointed their sharp fingers straight at us, and the thunder rumbled through our bones.

We did not care. We had our rubber tire between us, which we both kept a hand on, as we rolled it up the street toward home.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Okay, my darling blog world friends, this is a TENTATIVE book cover for Abbie Ann, book three in my DAUGHTERS OF JACOB KANE series. (You'll notice the words iStockPhoto across the bottom. Ignore that. Also, it's a bit bleary, but that will all be fixed later after they purchase the images.)

I think Abbie is beautiful, but the mole above her mouth threw me for a loop. Graphics can easily remove it if I don't like it, but I'm going to consider your votes as to whether I should keep it there or not. So....what do you think? Yes or No?
Send in your votes. If you want, you can also tell me your reasons for either liking or disliking it.

Isn't this fun? You have a chance to get in on the ground floor of book-cover designing and make your vote count! Yippee-Skippy.

I love you all!

Monday, April 13, 2009



I don't know who the primary instigator was--my blue-eyed, blond-haired friend, Cindy--or me. All I know is that whenever I got into trouble, Cindy was usually my partner. And it was usually a hot summer day when trouble brewed. This particular day was no exception.

Cindy lived right next door to me, and on the other side of me were the Dennis's. Next to the Dennis family lived Ralph and Vera Miles, Cindy's lovely grandparents. They were so nice, which makes it difficult to understand why we did this naughty thing. We spent many hours at Grandma and Grandpa Miles' house, helping "Grandma" plant her spring flowers, swimming at their beach (because they had a sandy one with a nice dock and raft--and no seaweed!), and eating her homemade goodies, of which she always had a plentiful supply. She also had the best soda crackers. I'm not talking saltines, either. I'm talking soda crackers. I still love those things.

One day Cindy and I decided to go to Grandma Miles' house and see about getting some of those soda crackers and maybe some of her fresh-brewed sweet iced tea. Trouble was, no one was home when we knocked on the door. We peered through the jalousie window at that spotless kitchen, mouths watering when we spotted the box of crackers sitting in their usual spot, right between the flour and sugar canisters. Cindy gave the door a jiggle, but it was locked. What to do. We tried the door a few more times, then walked around to the back, hoping to find that door unlocked, but no such luck. So then we did the unthinkable. We started fishing for sticks or anything we could find to pick the lock.

We jammed several sticks into the lock, but to no avail. And then Cindy found a nail, which worked perfectly. We were in! We headed straight for the crackers, and then started opening up cupboard doors to see what other treasures we might lay hold of. Ah, what a delight to find ourselves inside that sunny kitchen, the crackers--and everything else for that matter--at our disposal.

But then something terrible happened. Cindy's mother appeared--as if out of nowhere! It was her usual sunbathing time--11:30, and she had come to use the beach. (We should have known, but we weren't the best planners, or burglars, for that matter.)

OH. MY. STARS! Was she ever mad to discover us robbing her parents' house. Not only did she swat Cindy's bottom, she came after me--only I escaped in the nick of time, running and screaming back to my house. I found my mother sitting in the living room sewing a dress. I leaped into her lap and immediately confessed my extreme naughtiness. Mom was peeved at me, and, of course, went to talk to Cindy's mom (I stayed home) to discuss the matter. We were both "jailed" for a period, but unfortunately, that didn't stop us from committing future "crimes".

Stay tuned for the continuing saga...

Monday, April 06, 2009


I was the only girl in my neighborhood until I turned eight when blond-haired, blue-eyed, six-year-old Cindy moved in next door. I had prayed for a girlfriend, someone to share secrets and dolls with, someone to run through the fields with, someone brave enough to jump off the end of the dock with me and not get all squeamish about the muck and lilypads. And then one day I saw a construction crew pull into the empty lot next door with their trucks and start building a little square house. Looking back, I thought that house was big (every house was bigger than mine), but in truth it couldn't have been more than 800 square feet! Everything about that house was compact, from the teeny little bedrooms, bathroom, kitchen, and the little living room with the picture window overlooking the lake.

At any rate, when Cindy moved in, trouble just seemed to move in with her. We found more things to get into, and somehow the naughty part I'd been hiding most of my eight years found a way to get out whenever I spent time with her.

One beautiful May day, out of boredom, we decided to remove all of Mrs. Dennis's beautiful blooming tulips, which she'd planted in neat rows against her house, and "replant" them in the sand down at the beach. We reasoned they would look so much prettier down there where the sun could catch their rainbow colors. So, I ran into the house for a pair of scissors, and one by one we clipped off each and every blossoming stem (a couple dozen at least) about an inch from the ground, leaves and all, and carried them down to the beach. We dug holes with our hands and carefully set each stem with its brightly colored, fragrant bloom in the moist sand. My, they looked lovely all standing in three neat rows. Never mind that some of them were starting to lean. We were certain Mrs. Dennis would thank us for our thoughtful gesture when she got home from her errands.


In fact, she marched over to my house that evening for a chat with my parents. It was difficult for Mom and Dad to figure out how to right the situation, and when it was all said and done, Mrs. Dennis shrugged it off, saying she was thankful we didn't pull up the bulbs. (Hmm. We hadn't thought of that, and it's probably a good thing.) They would come up next year, she said. I believe my parents were hard-pressed to know what to do with me most times. I wasn't evil, after all, just mischievous. My actions didn't warrant a spanking, but they did deserve a good scolding, which I'm sure I got. Unfortunately, or not, I don't remember the outcome, only that I never did it again. Hmm. I tried lots of things once.

Stay tuned...

Saturday, April 04, 2009


I was roughly 9-years old, raised in a loving Christian home, and certainly well aware of right and wrong, but did that stop me from performing my share of evil deeds? Nuh-uh...

The Dennis's, our neighbors, had a nice little dog named Susie, a black, fluffy, lovable mutt. Often, they would leave for long weekends to visit their daughter and leave me in charge of Susie. All it entailed was my unlocking their front door, walking inside, and filling up Susie's food and water bowl, then taking her outside for her "period of duty". This I did three or four times a day. I enjoyed my "job", as it gave me a sense of responsibility and, well, shoot, I liked Susie. She was a nice mutt.

I also liked the Dennis house. The year was 1957, and there were no what you'd call terribly nice houses on my street, even though we had lake property -- except for the Dennis house. I considered them rich--even though by today's standards they'd probably fall in the near-poverty category. Still, they had a moderate size kitchen, fair size living room, two whole bedrooms, and inside plumbing. Definitely, they were rich by my standards! We were among the few who still had an outhouse at the back of our property. (Maybe I'll tell you about that in another "confessions" episode.)

On this particular visit to tend to Susie's needs, I spent a bit more time than necessary keeping Susie company. My parents were home watching The Red Skelton Hour, and I knew they wouldn't miss me. I don't know, something just came over me, and I had this strong need to explore the Dennis house. They had nice chairs and a couch without holes in it, and they had a nice bathroom with a shiny white toilet and tub and pretty silver sink faucets. I tested them, and the water ran so clear. 'Course, I didn't drink it 'cause it was, after all, bathroom water, and I'd heard once to only drink water from a kitchen faucet, not a bathroom one.

I walked from room to room, Susie at my heels. It was a snowy night, and the house was chilly, so I didn't dawdle while I investigated things. Passing by Mr. and Mrs. Dennis's bedroom, I grew particularly curious. (I had to share a bunk-bed with my brother in my parents' room!!!!! What would it be like to have a bedroom all to myself?) MERCY! Shoot, what would it be like to have a nickel to buy a candy bar? And that's when I saw it -- the mile-high pile of coins sprawled out on the bedside stand. There were quarters, nickels, pennies, dimes, half-dollars. MY! You name it. There had to be at least $2000 worth of change there.

Without a moment's hesitation, I walked up to that little table and scooped up every bit of that change, well, as much as my two coat pockets could carry. Quickly, I gave Susie her food and water, then grabbed the house key, let myself out, and locked up, padding through the fresh falling snow on the way back to my house, my heavy coat weighed down by all the coinage, my heart also carrying a little extra weight.

I AM A TERRIBLE THIEF. Even with The Red Skelton Hour turned up at full blast, my dad still asked when I hung my coat up on the hook by the door, "What's that jingling in your pocket?"

"Huh?" I asked, throat as dry as a sand dune in August.

Mom raised her gaze from her sewing project. "Is that money I hear in your pocket?" I gave a slow, methodical nod. Wow, that was a short-lived landfall. "Where'd you get money?" The logical question.

I burst into tears, certain of the spanking that was sure to come following my confession. "I took it off of Mr. Dennis's bedside stand." I clapped a hand over my butt, preparing for the stinging slap.

"Lay it all out on the table," Dad said.

"Huh? Why? I'll just take it back," I said.

"You do what your dad said." Why did Mom always have to go along with him?

I emptied my pockets onto our ancient round oak table with the monstrous legs on casters. They made a shattering noise when they spilled out across the wide expanse. It took several handfuls before I finally accomplished the task.

"That's a lot of money," Dad said.

"Now can I take it back?" I asked. "I didn't mean to take it."

"No, I think we'll wait."


"The Dennis's will be home in two days. You can return it to Mrs. Dennis on Monday morning--and also explain what you did."

"What? But..."

"Mom will walk over there with you, but you'll do all the talking."

No amount of tears would change his mind, so for the next two days I had to plan out what I would say and picture in my mind how the very nice and friendly Mrs. Dennis would take to the idea of my stealing all the change from their bedroom table.

I think I stumbled my way through my confession and even received her forgiveness, and here's the thing. She asked me many times after that to take care of Susie, but not once was I tempted to ransack their drawers, look at their bedside furniture, or sit on their chairs. In fact, since that day I don't recall stealing another thing in my life.

Lesson learned? Absolutely!